LibriVox recording of The Master Mystery, by Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey. Read by Roger Melin.
While Harry Houdini didn't rise to fame as a screen actor, silent film makers of the day sought to capitalize on his fame. The Master Mystery was Houdini's first such attempt, and it was embraced by the viewing public, leading to other screen roles following.
The hero (or superhero) is Quentin Locke, scientist, agent of the U.S. Justice Department, and not surprisingly, an escape artist extraordinaire.
The Master Mystery follows agent Locke through many pitfalls, in true serial fashion, as he is tasked with uncovering a band of thugs and a peculiar metal robot (reportedly the first robot in film) with a brain, called an automaton, which has been robbing potential inventors of their patent rights.
All in good fun by today's standards, we find our hero escaping a straightjacket, a diver's suit, and an electric chair to name but a few, and of course winning the hand of the daughter of one of the industrialists along the way. (Summary by Roger Melin)
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May 13, 2011 Subject:
A Caricature of Serials
I really enjoyed other works of Reeve, like "The Silent Bullet" here at IA http://www.archive.org/details/silent_bullet_1010_librivox
which are clever crime mysteries, for the most part more believable IMHO than Sherlock Holmes. I enjoy Sherlock Holmes, but I think Holmes' sleuthing in general lies on the outskirts of fantasy.
Having reread the description, I see it appears to be the basis for a Harry Houdini silent flick. That explains why the protagonist heads straight for every trap set for him, and gets tied up, locked up or ensnared two or three times in every chapter (okay, I exaggerate...), and against a thousand to one odds, (SURPRISE!!!) manages to extricate himself every time.
There are so many ridiculous and unbelievable situations, that I shook my head and considered to stop listening, but I wanted to hear the solution and had to listen to the end. I can't recommend this story, but I enjoyed other stories by Reeve. This was co-written with John Grey, so maybe we can blame the shortcomings on him!
Thanks to Mr Roger Melin for offering his talents! As always, he gives a great performance!